By then end of this module, you will be able to: 

  1. Identify the characteristics and pedagogical implications of authentic learning
  2. Design instructional events based on evidence based guidelines
  3. Use an authentic learning task to engage learners
  4. Evaluate the design of your task in order to improve it if found necessary

Introduction

Authentic learning is best described as a pedagogical model focused on aligning the conditions and enablers for learning. In this approach the task governs the activities that students perform, the facilitator’s role is supportive, and the outcome is a genuine and worthwhile product.

The following video will give you an introduction to realistic tasks as intended with authentic learning:

Benefits

Authentic learning increases the relevance of instructional content for learners by situating knowledge in realistic contexts. This approach supports problem solving abilities in learners, encourages engagement, promotes the development of procedural knowledge  and motivates students to think like practitioners.   

Implementation tips

Consider the following elements in the design of your authentic task:

  1. Simulate an authentic context that reflects the way  knowledge will be used in real life – the context needs to be all embracing to provide the purpose and motivation for learning, in order to provide a sustained and complex learning environment that can be explored at length.
  2. Design authentic tasks that have a real world relevance – the task should present a single, ill-defined task to be completed over a sustained period of time.  It should require students to define  subtasks needed to complete the activity.
  3. Provide access to expert performances and the modelling of processes so learners have exposure to different  levels of expertise.
  4. Enable and encourage students to explore different perspectives on the topics from various points of view.
  5. Encourage collaborative construction of knowledge.
  6. Provide opportunities and tools for learners to reflect. Include a non-linear organisation to enable students to readily return to any element of a site if desired. Learners should be instructed to publish the final product of their tasks, so they can compare their performance to experts and other students.
  7. The tasks need to incorporate inherent opportunities to articulate (either amongst collaborative groups, or in a public presentation) an argument to enable defence of the position.
  8. Provide opportunities  for more able peers to assist with scaffolding and coaching, as well as the means for you to support learning via appropriate communication technologies.
  9. Create an assessment that measure learners ability to be effective performers with acquired knowledge, and to craft polished performances or products in collaboration with others.

Here is a sample authentic learning task:

Insights

Design tasks that require creativity and reflection to identify areas where knowledge can be applied to solve a real problem. Do not oversimplify the task.  Allow enough time to focus on the activity; perhaps, it can be a project that runs through the entire semester.


Supportive Materials 

Now, you can work on designing your tasks, resources and support. Click on the following links to access guides to support your design process:

CREATE

Write your Learning Objectives              Design a Learning Task/Assessment 

    Create an Assessment Rubric                           Evaluate Your Design

Readings

  1. Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2009). A Guide to Authentic e-Learning. [electronic resource]: Hoboken : Taylor and Francis, 2009.1

Websites

  1. A matrix to Authentic Learning